If there is anyone I will share with you this month of men with the longest resume, it would be Mr. W.E.B. Du Bois. William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, author, writer and editor.
Du Bois attended Fisk University, a historically black college, where he would have his first experience with Southern racism, which at the time encompassed Jim Crow laws. After graduating, he would attend Harvard University to receive his second bachelor’s degree (his credits at Fisk were not accepted), then begin his graduate work under a Harvard scholarship. The following year, he would attend University of Berlin on a fellowship. While in Europe, he would work with Germany’s most prominent social scientists, like Gustav von Schmoller and Heinrich von Treitschke. After returning from Europe, Du Bois completed his graduate studies. In 1895 he was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he wrote his dissertation “Suppression of the African Slave Trade in the United States of America: 1638–1871″, which would be considered radical for its time.
Du Bois received several job offers, but would accept a teaching job at Wilberforce University. After two years at Wilberforce, Du Bois accepted a one-year research job from the University of Pennsylvania, where he performed sociological field research in Philadelphia’s African-American neighborhoods and published The Philadelphia Negro, the first case study of a black community in the United States.
Check out this great video on race conflicts in that case study and how it would come to influence other sociology theories:
Du Bois criticized Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise,” for not demanding equality for African Americans, as granted by the 14th Amendment. Nearly a decade later of activism, Du Bois published The Souls of Black Folk, a collection of 14 essays (as mentioned in the video above). Du Bois’s activism consisted in opposing white biological superiority ideas as well as women’s rights. He would later co-found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and served as editor of its monthly magazine, The Crisis. Up to his death, Du Bois would also be a proponent to Pan-Africanism, helping free African countries to European powers.
DuBois was an incredible man who led a very interesting lifetime! But if you’d like to hear more, check out these great reads!